I’ve Got A [Gut] Feeling, But I’m Not Going to Eat Anything

Another couple of tabs I’ve had open in my browser since the weekend:

Dot connecting. My favorite thing to do, and the more diverse the sources, the better. I think I’m at my relative best as simply an integrator and synthesizer. Everyone else can pretend they know shit they don’t; be authoritative: ’cause that’s what everyone seeks. I think the best knowledge is found in pieces, from itsy bits some people know about but never have the complete picture of, and you put it all together. So, I like to assemble where I can, even with bits from vegans like Dr. Greger. I laf when people say, “but he’s a vegan;” just as I do when people say, “but Dr. Eades is LC carnivorous.” This signals the root of the problem and obstacle, to me. Nobody has the complete picture. Lots of people have bits and pieces, and they’re typically pitted against one-another and often enough by us side-seekers. Any semblance of a complete picture gets obscured in the rush for those sides, betting on which one wins.

And everybody loses.

OK, so about the articles. You won’t find a word about fasting in the first. In the second, you won’t find a word about gut bacteria and its health benefits. And yet, I think they’re connected.

From the first:

Her parents were running out of hope. Their teenage daughter, Mary, had been diagnosed with a severe case of obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD), as well as ADHD. They had dragged her to clinics around the country in an effort to thwart the scary, intrusive thoughts and the repetitive behaviors that Mary felt compelled to perform. Even a litany of psychotropic medications didn’t make much difference. It seemed like nothing could stop the relentless nature of Mary’s disorder.

Their last hope for Mary was Boston-area psychiatrist James Greenblatt. Arriving at his office in Waltham, MA, her parents had only one request: help us help Mary.

Greenblatt started by posing the usual questions about Mary’s background, her childhood, and the onset of her illness. But then he asked a question that no psychiatrist ever had: How was Mary’s gut? Did she suffer digestive upset? Constipation or diarrhea? Acid reflux? Had Mary’s digestion seemed to change at all before or during her illness? Her parents looked at each other. The answer to many of the doctor’s questions was, indeed, “Yes.”

That’s what prompted Greenblatt to take a surprising approach: besides psychotherapy and medication, Greenblatt also prescribed Mary a twice-daily dose of probiotics, the array of helpful bacteria that lives in our gut. The change in Mary was nothing short of miraculous: within six months, her symptoms had greatly diminished. One year after the probiotic prescription, there was no sign that Mary had ever been ill.

Her parents may have been stunned, but to Greenblatt, Mary’s case was an obvious one. An imbalance in the microbes in Mary’s gut was either contributing to, or causing, her mental symptoms. “The gut is really your second brain,” Greenblatt said. “There are more neurons in the GI tract than anywhere else except the brain.” […]


It’s a distinct possibility: in one 2013 proof-of-concept study, researchers at UCLA showed that healthy women who consumed a drink with four added probiotic strains twice daily for four weeks showed significantly altered brain functioning on an fMRI brain scan. The women’s brains were scanned while they looked at photos of angry or sad faces, and then asked to match those with other faces showing similar emotions.

Those who had consumed the probiotic drink showed significantly lower brain activity in the neural networks that help drive responses to sensory and emotional behavior. The research is “groundbreaking,” Cryan said, because it’s the first trial to show that probiotics could affect the functioning of the human brain. Still, he notes that the results need to be interpreted with care.

As the research community increasingly lends credence to Greenblatt’s ideas, and public awareness about gut bacteria grows, he’s confident we’ll soon know more about the power of probiotics. “Because of the commercials and the other information that’s out there, patients are beginning to ask,” he said. “They’re much more aware of how important probiotics are.”

Point SAD (“Standard American Diet”). Go ahead and read it all if you like.

The problem, as we’re beginning to learn in the Resistant Starch series of posts (last one here, with links to all the previous…oh, and here’s a T2 Diabetic’s report about blood glucose regulation), is that prebiotics are probably more important than probiotics. The latter has a tough time getting to the colon before getting killed off. Resistant starch does get there unimpeded, feeds the residents; and other bacteria—legal and illegal alike—can also hitch a ride.

Probiotics Hitching a Bus Ride on Resistant Starch

We began this—”Tatertot” Tim and I—really having no idea of appropriate dose. Many studies use around 30g per day. So we went with that, equivalent to about 4T Bob’s Red Mill Potato Starch per day. Everyone is different, but I had hilarious fartage. This is now defined as fartage that’s so intense, so long…so tuba…that you toss your hands in the air and laugh. I just mean that it must be experienced, to be believed.

The initial and understandable reaction is that something’s wrong. This is not good. Unpossible! But I’m German—in dominant heritage and somewhat of mind—and as all good Germans know, farts are funny. So I went with it, laughing all the way. …And now, a few months later and to my general chagrin and disappointment, I can’t hardly bring on anything better than a toot from a Kindergarten Recorder, no matter how much RS I take in daily, and even with beans (which, when taken together with RS, had previously raised the hilarity to jumping up and down proportions). There go all of my orchestral dreams…

To the integrative dot connecting from the 2nd piece:

It is undeniable that many of the centenarians are known for their rather modest energy intake and is has been long established that there is a direct mechanistic connection between “living on the high energy fast track” and increased aging. The border between calorie restriction on the one hand and malnutrition on the other is however fluid and where one may effectively add a couple of years to your life-span the other is not only going to make it shorter, it will also make it miserable. Within the past years fasting and intermittent fasting have emerged as potential alternatives.

The purpose of today’s article is now to take a closer look on whether they are equally or better suited to lead a long, healthy life that is not going to wast you away.

Given that our gut bacteria comprise 90% of the total cell count of our bodies, I chew on the implications. First, I realize that biologically, I’m just a host. At the same time, not just. They may outnumber me by a scale of 10, but they’re not typing right here. Yin-Yang.

Ah…so it’s a symbiosis! A balance! Use whatever italicised, exclamatory phrase you like!

Longevity effect of caloric restriction: More than a long-lived myth?

Scientists were pretty excited, when the first realized that a reduction in caloric intake without malnutrition, will initiate metabolic adaptations that can extend the lifespan of a variety of species.

“Key early studies in rodents revealed that mice fed 55–65% caloric restricted diets through their life exhibited a 35–65% greater mean and maximal lifespan than mice eating a non-purified ad libitum diet (Weindruch. 1996). Although attenuated, these effects remain present even when moderate caloric restriction (20–40%) is implemented in middle-aged mice (Weindruch. 2001).”

At least in rodents (Weinbruch. 2001) and nonhuman primates (Colaman. 2009) these beneficial effects on life expectancy were partly mediated by reductions of exactly those diseases that are currently carrying off increasing parts of the population of the Western Obesity Belt, namely cancer and diabetes.

Sidebar: Insulin surprise: Higher not lower fasting insulin levels are associated with better cognitive performance in Chinese nonagenarians and centenarians. At the same time, the worst cognitive function was found in subjects with hypoglycemic (=low) blood glucose levels (Yan-Ling. 2013). Evidence that similar beneficial effects can occur in human beings comes mostly from studies on overweight subjects on calorically restricted diets.

Evidence that similar beneficial effects can occur in human beings comes mostly from studies on overweight subjects on calorically restricted diets. Unsurprisingly, the latter have been associated with

  • reductions of several cardiac risk factors (Fontana. 2004 + 2007; Lefevre. 2009),
  • improved insulin-sensitivity (Larson-Meyer. 2006), and
  • enhanced mitochondrial function (Civitarese. 2007).

These health improvements went hand in hand with a reduction in oxidative DNA damage (Heilbronn. 2003 + 2006; Hofer. 2008), but support the benefits of general caloric reduction only in those who have been eating well than they needed for years

The article goes on: But what about the healthy, lean physical culturist?

I go back to where I started: about 240 pounds at 5’10”, and zero idea of anything but eat less, move more. Over the years, I’ve learned a few things. Not only about blogging and how much controversy I ought to get involved in for my own better or worse, but also how lean I really want to be, how much weight I really want to lift and how often, and the tradeoffs surrounding all of it.

…At some point surrounding the hilarious fartage, I went on a camping trip and forgot to take my potato starch and where—just like many of you—I was at the point: WHAT IS THE DOSE? OK, 4T PER DAY, EVERY DAY!!! That’s the prescription. Period.

What I found is that your gut needs a break just as much as you do. So my gut got a 3-day fast from anything prebiotic beyond just regular Paleoish, or whatever was on the camping menu. And guess what? It did the whole trick. By the morning of the second day I could tell something was up; but, TMI. This continued blissfully for the remainder.

I was onto something.

They need fasting too—which in the practical, amounts to culling the flora. I’ve longtime understood and benefitted from episodic fasting or complete restriction in food, and the more I eat to nutritional density (think: things that make babies grow, like milk (mammals) & eggs (reptiles, birds, fish); toss in some oysters, mussels, clams, liver, other offal, etc), the easier it is to just not be very hungry.

…I’ve reduced all supplements now to D3, K2, some dessicated liver tabs, and about a gram of mag-malate taken once per week. I drink a good amount of whole milk (1L per day, av) and eat a good amount of nutritionally dense food. I’m completely deficient in all “superfoods,” all of which are 1000% less—and and even less—nutrient dense than the foods I’ve mentioned…and you can read my book for proof, with graphs, sourcing the USDA nutrient database.

For a final thought, remember what you did when you first got interested in paleo. You connected dots, didn’t you? You didn’t worry about who’s right or wrong, but whether there was some logic to it and it made fucking sense, right? But then, problem. It wasn’t any more automatic than you’ve ever found even 1% of your life to be. You were surprised, but you should not have been. Probably partly my fault, and others. I was pretty bright eyed, too, and my blogging reflected it.

Way back when, it was so open ended, so much to discover and learn. It’s why I so took to it. Fortune struck me with a little influence and a popular blog, and here I am still—never having made much of anything monetarily beyond pocket change. As I’ve see the paleo divorces over the years, I’ve both understood and been stalwart about sticking it out because, it will be open ended no matter what, ultimately, or science is dead. I’ve placed my bet and I’m holding. Maybe even looking for an opportunity to raise.

I’ll tell you the truth: I pretty much hate 90% + of all the marketing and products and everyone trying to hitch a $$$ ride—and so often, out of nowhere. I just detest it while I actually wish people well because I’m conflicted over my emotions over it, and the practicality of others doing something and need to make a living vs. time. So, I just don’t rant about that and generally hate all who do, because they can’t even manage to muster my very poor sense of discretion.

I’m cool with people making a living, making money. That’s not it. What it is, and the source of my moody conflict is that we’re dealing with children, essentially. And there’s no real way to deal with children in a medium like this, with a message like this, than to sell them dogma-ish—if you’re about making a real splash. And so, it’s back to trade offs and on some days, I wish I could do it. But I just can’t. It does make me feel superior some days, but not too much, so I soldier on. Paleo has yet to make a dent in terms of the number of people who can be helped and the only thing that keeps me from just totally blogging to my absolute whim is that I absolutely know how it helps people and families in profound ways.

Is your concern for people so great as to actually help them, or only so great as to vote for others to be forced to help them?

I don’t vote. Never will. I wouldn’t do that to you, or anyone.


  1. John on August 27, 2013 at 13:57

    Great past few posts! You’ve made me question personal paradigms I didn’t know need questioning. The “bits and pieces” approach makes so much sense; upon reflection, I’m quick to outwardly downplay someone’s ideas because I disagree with one thing they say. I think that stems from a fear of being associated with a person that is “wrong” about something. Good reminder that no one is perfect.

  2. Steve A on August 27, 2013 at 14:28

    The gut can definitely make a difference behaviorally, etc. My son is on a gluten/artificial dye/HFCS/cow dairy free diet (I think that’s everything). He is also autistic. It is amazing the difference it makes if he is exposed to some of these items, from speech to physical aggressiveness. He started on the GAPS diet (Gut and Psychology Syndrome), and although he isn’t strictly on it, there are still remarkable differences. Maybe I can get my wife to chime in on this, because she knows WAY more about it than I do.

  3. tatertot on August 27, 2013 at 14:59

    The thought of a mandatory dose of 4TBS of potato starch per day didn’t sit well with me, either. Same for all the supplements recommended by many of the diet gurus.

    I’m down to 2000IU D3 from Sep-Mar and Vit K (with multiple types of K) about 2-3 days per week. Everything I read about K says it’s produced by healthy gut flora, so, connecting those dots with RS means maybe don’t need to rely on supplemental K.

    I have been testing my D3 levels last couple years. I can get it up to about 50 in summer with just sun. Last winter, 5000IU per day put me at 80, so this winter I’m trying 2000IU. I think a seasonal dip may be more realistic than artificially high when it would normally be lower.

  4. Brad on August 27, 2013 at 17:08

    Been eating a heaping soup spoon of tapioca/cassava starch each day for a while now and temporarily stopped eating so many onions. Fartage has subsided a lot. In fact pretty much gone. Won’t know if this is just adapting to the starch until I up the onions again.
    I don’t take any man-made supp’s but do try to supp with nat foods like blackstrap (minerals), papaya (vit-C), red palm fruit oil (vit-E), avocado, *lots* of eggs, cream, kefir, liver, etc. I’m 50 and my body comp at 5’10” 172 lbs, is where it was when I was 18 so, knock on wood, things seem to be working and I’m happy with that. I thank discovering paleo and HIT lifting for re-igniting my health and interest but have progressed beyond that now.

  5. Los on August 27, 2013 at 20:58

    If you ever experience stomach issues from Resistant Starch or any food take Ginger Root powder or in cap form. It always works.

  6. La Frite on August 28, 2013 at 03:17

    1.5 meal a day (a la warrior diet / fast-5), RS, lots of animal proteins and good fat (butter, tallow, etc), starchy veggies and green bananas, sunshine and D3 sup in winter + moving my butt once in a while (body weight lifting, sprints) + good and long sleep = best health at ~ 40 y.o. Much much better than at 20 or 30. Lean and happy :)

    Pourvu que ca dure :D

    By the way, I came across the debate regarding the genetic type of cows (beta-casein mutation: A2 vs A1). And indeed, I seem to do really well on A2 dairy but not A1. Not sure you have addressed this issue. I will just mention Keith Woodford and his book The Devil in the Milk if you have not come across this discussion.

  7. David Brown on August 28, 2013 at 06:14

    Good job on this post, Richard. Are you, perchance, a random sequential thinker?

  8. Richard Nikoley on August 28, 2013 at 07:44

    Wouldn’t know, David. I don’t go much in for those various personality sorts of categories and such. That said, sounds about right.

  9. tatertot on August 28, 2013 at 08:11

    @Brad – Sounds like a lot of us are in about the same place, “40+ met-syn survivors”. We should form a club.

    I’m 5’10, went from 250 to 160 over a couple years with IF, sprints, bodyweight exercise, and a pretty good paleo diet. Sleep and blood sugar were my weak points, RS has definitely improved both to the point I can see keeping RS in my arsenal forever.

    Since day1 of paleo, everyone talked about gut health, leaky gut, and the importance of gut microbes but the best advice anyone could give was ‘eat fermented foods for probiotics, lots of veggies, and no beans’. All this done while starving the gut of the actual foods it needs to support a healthy gut flora.

  10. VW on August 28, 2013 at 09:32

    Can you make a sound file of some of your more hilarious farts and post them?

  11. vwxoxo on August 28, 2013 at 14:00

    VW, you want photos of pro and pre biotic super poop to go with your audio track?

  12. Wolfstriked on August 28, 2013 at 14:13

    Yesterday was first day at 5tbsps potato starch and today I took 3 with breakfast and not a peep.But as day went on today my pants were getting tighter and tighter and at one point I passed a window and my reflection made me look like I gained 15 pounds,but still no farts. Seems that the issues I had before of belly bloat as day went on that was initially cured with beans and green bananas was back to normal.Still no gas at all but just feel bloated as hell.Hope tomorrow I sing a tune or two,LOL,.Also,my hypoglycemia seems just as bad and I was really hoping I would find some BS stability.I will keep with the RS as I have nothing to lose and alot to gain and the 2 to 3 shits per day is ohhhh so much better than once every 2to3 days that VLC seemed to cause for me.

  13. Marc on August 28, 2013 at 14:33

    ” with the RS as I have nothing to lose and alot to gain and the 2 to 3 shits per day is ohhhh so much better than once every 2to3 days that VLC seemed to cause for me.”

    Years ago paleo crowd was all excited about it and many people actually started saying that we are not supposed to poop as much as we do now. What???

    That was my first break from the paleo dogma in 09. That never made sense to me. All the animals i have ever observed eat and than poop.


  14. gabriella kadar on August 28, 2013 at 18:43

    Tatertot, I decided to ‘bolus dose’ the vitamin D3. I take the same stuff as Richard: Carlson 4000 IU.

    Since I’m a slacker on supplements, I decided since I had an endocrinology appointment first week of January to boost the D3 intake. I can’t give exact dosage here because it was ‘by the handful’, but probably during the month of December 2012 I took 50,000 per week. Theblood level in early January was 92 or 93 American measures. That impressed the hell out of me because it means a.) the Carlson product contains at least what it states on the label and b.) I didn’t crap out the vitamin because it got absorbed, c.) the blood level shot up (I assume due to my usual slack-ass consumption of these things) very quickly and efficiently. What I’ve read, Vitamin D3 levels generally rise slowly.

    I figured that taking it every day may result in variable absorption since it is a fat soluble vitamin. The Carlson is in fish oil so instead I took a lot of capsules containing fish oil that way I was not depending on the fat content of a meal to ensure absorption.

    The endocrinologist ‘did not approve’ but I don’t care. At least I got the results from my ‘speriment.

    These days I take less but still only one big dose every three weeks. (34,000 IU) The stuff seems to absorb really well like this.

    Just sayin’. I think people who take it every day in small doses may not be maximizing their absorption.

    There are papers published about vitamin K2 absorption from the bowel. The bacteria make a different MK… maybe 9… whichever. It is not well absorbed from the bowel and the form is one which the human body does not appear to know what to do with. So either eat sheep brains every week, lamb kidneys, natto or take the capsules.

    So the K2 supplement regimen is probably a good thing. I’m just taking 10 mg twice per week. I figure that oughta do it. If it doesn’t, that’s my problem.

    Richard I’ve read some conflicting absorption information (in my mind) about vitamin C supplementation. I don’t normally take this vitamin but recently with my sore teeth (braces change…ouch) I have not been consuming food source vitamin C. The stuff I read leads me to believe that the supplements are not efficacious. What sayeth thou?

    In accordance with resistant starch etc. I’ve pressure cooked copious quantities of dark chickpeas. Eat them cold in salad. I know that potato starch in large doses does what it does. But wouldn’t 1/2 cup of chickpeas per day have some reasonably decent effects as well? They don’t make me fart so it’s kind of not very much fun.

    I’m not sure, but these rat and mouse caloric restriction diet results make me wonder that humans are out there interacting with others, picking up viruses and whatnot from other people. The lab rats live in an environment that is almost sterile in regards to exposure to potentially pathogenic viruses and bacteria.

    Our grandparents wanted us to have a bit of insulating fat because if we got really sick with a high fever, zero appetite and whatnot, the extra calories stored in our bodies would keep us going. It was a sort of ‘cushion’ against starving to death. Rodents put on restrictive diets also live in isolated cages in a university ‘animal room facility’. It’s unreal because they don’t experience contact with pathogens which can result in siginificant weight loss as a consequence of illness.

    Probably a more realistic experiment would be to take these low cal (supposedly extra long lived) mice and expose them a few times to a pathogen which would have them throwing up, diarrhoea and not eating at all for a couple of weeks, keep them on a low energy diet and then see how long they live. Because unless a human being consuming a longterm low cal diet will be exposed to all the flotsam and jetsom of pathogenic soup and spray out there when people contact others, how long do the mice actually live? (Did this make sense? Or should I rewrite it?)

    I have a feeling that Richard and Mine German Grandmas might have known something when they wanted slightly plump (slightly okay? Not obese) grandchildren to ensure that there was something extra in case disease struck.

  15. Richard Nikoley on August 28, 2013 at 20:33

    Hi Gabriella:

    Unfortunately, I know nothing of vit C absorption other than what’s not absorbed creates colorful pee. I never take C, but I will drink 4oz of fruit juice now & then and have the odd piece of fruit as well.

  16. tatertot on August 29, 2013 at 13:41

    “…ask Sisson or Bass for a fecal donation” I already did. I said, ‘here’s some money–send me some shit’. I got this:

  17. bornagain on August 29, 2013 at 04:24

    I feel the fartage is my connection with baby Jesus. He speaks to me through my ass. If it smells bad then I know it’s the devil in my butt. I like Richard and I like farting too!

  18. Tim Maitski on August 29, 2013 at 07:55


    To me, if gut microbiota seems to affect so much, the obvious research that needs to be done is in Fecal Microbiota Transplants. It’s pretty gross but what if you just needed to have a very lean and healthy person give you an enema donation.

    I found a website that has a lot of good information on this. http://www.ThePowerOfPoop.com

    I can see it now. You go to the doctor and he recommends some drugs. You can then say the him, “You don’t know shit.”

  19. Richard Nikoley on August 29, 2013 at 07:58


    I’m in full agreement. Seems like the most logical solution to me. Quick & easy fix, then get your prebiotics.

  20. bornagain on August 29, 2013 at 13:37

    Tim, Richard, ask Sisson or Bass for a fecal donation and try it for yourselves. Who knows? Maybe you could cultivate it and sell it.

  21. Richard Nikoley on August 29, 2013 at 13:51


    That is bad. Don’t forget the good cop/bad cop deal, mkay?


  22. Leo Desforges on August 30, 2013 at 06:40

    Hahahahahahahah. Nice jab.

  23. La Frite on September 4, 2013 at 02:53

    Wow, I never ever had a peek at the stuff Sisson is selling … WTF! At least, he provides so much free info on his website, that we can forgive the guy for making a buck out of stuff like that. I mean, anybody can cook up something like this at home, but why not real foods in the end ? Why sell a powder thingy a la slim-fast ?? I think there is a “Is it Primal” article once in a while, I must say this shit is NOT primal :D :D

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